07-23-2012, 10:07 AM
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I have no idea what you mean by 'fake rocks' but plants should grow well in fine (small) gravel or sand. Actually, I've read that plants grow really well in sand capped soil muck (organic potting soil or mineralized top soil) "dirt". However, soil substrate tanks take some extra care and patience to setup and stabilize and often the display focus is on plants rather than fish.
For the average fishkeeper sand or small sized gravel is the way to go. In some respects, I have come around to think that sand is easier/better to maintain long term. The finer particle size of sand causes detritus (plant and fish waste) to remain on the surface as mulm and slowly decay. This better ensures against this waste sifting down into the substrate as it would with most gravels. Mulm is a very healthy thing in an aquarium and as/if desired, the detritus can be easily removed with a siphon hovering just above the surface.
Also, there is much written about the benefits of an undisturbed deep (3" or more) sand bed. Beneficial organisms populate the sand and various levels, including anaerobic bacteria in lower levels that may oxidize nitrate (denitrification).
Note: sand (whether play sand or pool filter sand) must be carefully washed (rinsed) to remove fines (dust like particles of sand) before being used in the aquarium. I find the best way is outside with a 5g bucket and garden hose.
Last edited by AbbeysDad; 07-23-2012 at 10:09 AM..